July 12th . . . And I thought I only took 13 days . . . Ha!

The sun is just now warming our bones and drying our gear. 

Yesterday we left the comforts of Vermilion and headed for our first obstacle––the raging waters of Bear Creek. 

The hiking was good, if only for the fact that it was overcast––this soon turned to sprinkles and then thunder. 

Big, booming, spooky, bursts of thunder. I kept waiting for something––a tree–––even me, to go up in smoke.

I figured that if I got hit, I’d either be dead or a lot smarter, as is evidenced by the current crop of lightning movies. 

I just got soaked and Manny and I sheltered ourselves under some trees, until the thunder passed. We made some hot chocolate. 

As soon as it seemed cool we took off in pursuit of Scott who we found under a fallen tree––he was dry. 

We had to cross a small, but rapid run-off creek, that turned out to be lots less scary than it looked. 

We found a campsite and decided that we need to stop and dry out. We spent about an hour searching for decent dry wood and almost as long, trying to get the thing to start––but finally we got a raging fire going. 

Scott left his boots too close the fire and put a hole in one of the toes. Manny has a mondo blister on the bottom of his foot and I seem to be okay, with my blisters having turned into hard, gnarly, pieces of dried skin. 

As soon as we get everything dry and packed, we are off to get real wet at the Bear Creek crossing. Fun! 

Later that day . . . so just as we find the crossing, it begins to pour and thunder. 

I’m the last one to go over. I should have done it in my underwear, but I ended up getting my shorts wet and the rain soaked my t-shirt. Luckily, my sleeping bag at the bottom of my pack, stayed dry. 

It was a cold, fast, river and if not for the line that stretched across it––probably impossible to cross, as you just held on as the current tried to pull you down stream. I did do it in my sandals, which I’d been advised not to. 

After the crossing, we just kept going. I finally changed into another t-shirt, but it just kept raining. 

Finally, the rain stopped and the clouds vanished in an unexpected direction. Even so, I expect them to drop more rain on me. It seems as though we are following the storm system, south. 

It sucks to look north and see blue sky, but then look south and see the gray, rumbling thunder clouds in our way. 

We finally arrived and pitched camp here at Marie Lake, just below Selden Pass. 

It started to rain and I climbed in and went to sleep. Unfortunately, I now have to get up and go hang my food––then it’s Top Ramen and tea and off to dream land. 

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Yes, memory. Funny how we forget so many things. Maybe I did it in thirteen days, the second time. Maybe never. 

At Red’s Meadow, the “Mystical Manny” story began to slightly unfold. Scott called Manny and had a long conversation and it was decided that Manny would drive up to Vermilion and meet us there. 

I still didn’t have a real idea why Manny had left Scott at Tuolomne, but that would soon be solved. 

I am trying to think of this JMT as one where I came into a case of “PTSD” or selective memory, of sorts––I remember all of the defining moments––the issues with Scott, but I don’t remember the trip too much. 

And my journal doesn’t seem to help, with me leaving out various details, only to remember them now, years later. 

As the boat slipped into the dock at the VVR, Scott pointed out Manny, standing on the shore and as soon as we stepped off the boat, Scott vanished, leaving me to take a little walk with Manny. 

HIs first words were something like, Maybe by now you are getting an idea of what happened to me––then he proceeded to tell me how he had turned around within half an hour of their getting on the trail, back at TM. 

He and Scott had been friends for a long time, but Scott could be sort of an asshole, he told me (and I knew by now, first-hand) . . . he even explained their differing responses to smoking pot––Scott, the maniac and Manny, Mr. Mellow. 

I felt really great having Manny there, but it turned out that he and Scott were just so used to one another, so almost one and the same and ultimately so on one another’s side, that I didn’t have him as a third person––he was just a slightly less interested, interactive partner. 

I couldn’t count on him to help me out––to defend me in any way. He was actually useless. 

When he smoked, he just got so super-mellow that he was able to ignore everything, so that by the end of the day, after dealing with all Scott’s ranting, he just got stoned, crawled in his tent and left me to be yelled at and berated. 

Oddly enough,I now realize that he was almost like a parent, like my dad, even. He could yell at me all he wanted––I wasn’t going to say anything. I wasn’t going to leave him. I didn’t have the strength and if he truly was this father-figure, I still loved the guy and hadn’t figured him out yet, so why would I leave? 

I didn’t––not for days and not until he forced me to . . . but that’s days away. 

Funny as well to think that the Bear Creek crossing would be my first obstacle. What was all that endless snow that I’d already dealt with––easy? 

And I do remember being just so happy that his shoes had burned. For a moment I thought that maybe this would  somehow be the end of his trip, or that he would be going a lot slower, but no. 

I was scheming on getting away from him. I was hating him, and yet . . . 

And this was the wettest, most miserable of trips. It rained and thundered all the time. And when it wasn’t the rain, then it was Scott, thundering down on me and why the hell I ever decided to do this again, I do not know. It’s not like I really needed, the perfect experience. 

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